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ABET teachers picket outside Port Elizabeth High Court over salaries

By Afikile Lugunya - Nov 10, 2017
ABET teachers picket outside Port Elizabeth High Court over salaries

A group of disgruntled Adult Based Education and Training (Abet) teachers on Friday picketed outside the Port Elizabeth High Court to voice their unhappiness about what they said are unfavourable working conditions as well as poor salaries.

Lonwabo Hempe, Regional Chairperson of the South African Abet Teachers Union, told RNEWS that their salaries are too low and they have tried to engage the Department of Education for years now, but the department has been dragging its feet.

“There is a rule from the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) that says that all people, who work under the government and are currently on contracts, must receive a basic monthly salary plus 37% instead of benefits," Hempe said.

“That was the reason that forced the government to not let people work under a contract for more than six months - the law now says three months. So, an individual, who started working on a six-months contract then, must get all their outstanding benefits.”

He said that after failing to reach an agreement with the Department of Education, they brought their case before the courts in 2011, and ended up reaching a settlement.

“We filed the case after we failed to reach an agreement with the Department of Education in 2011 - so it has been dragging all these years. In 2012, a settlement agreement was reached by the two parties, but up until this day, we haven’t received our money,” Hempe said.

“We are here hoping that today the case will be finalised and people receive a date from the Department of Basic Education, together with the Department of High Education and Training, confirming that we will get payed.

"What we want is a court letter handed to the DOE written in black and white that we will get our money and when. In addition, we want everyone to get their money and be payed with interest for all these years. They were payed without their 37 percent when they should have."

Also speaking at the picket, Mkhululi Vava, Chairperson for the South African Educators Union, said that by picketing they aim to get the authorities to listen to them.

“We want the world to see that we are being exploited and treated like second-class citizens in our own country and it’s a painful thing for someone to die without getting their money - its very painful," said Vava.

“The case has been dragging for almost seven years and we have been winning since then, but they are stalling and coming up with reasons that don’t make sense to as why we don’t get our money. They've said that we don’t qualify for these monies while the court settlement said that we do qualify.” 

Nomvuyiso Melani said that they are tired of being poor while they are qualified teachers.

“Many have died without getting their money as a result we watch their children suffer because there’s nothing we can do. We've seen that is what will happen to us too after we worked for so many years,” she said.

Melani said that she has been a teacher since 2002 and she still does not even have her own home.

She had hoped that things will get better and she would be employed permanently, but she remains a contract worker.

The teachers also said that most Abet classes take place after hours, which means they are risking their lives, but have nothing to show for it.

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